Article by Sam Riches, Growth Op
Jennifer Grant pitched her first business venture in front of a national audience.
The entrepreneur, biochemical engineer and mother of three appeared on the first season of Dragon’s Den, where she netted a $200,000 equity investment from Jim Treliving and Jennifer Wood for her line of organic salad dressings and bread dips rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.
Grant started her company after searching for a natural way to treat her son’s eczema. She found that flaxseed oil was effective, but it didn’t taste very good. So Grant launched CenaBal Gourmet Organics Inc. with a line of products that utilized the benefits of flaxseed without the bitter taste.
Now, Grant is growing another business that employs natural ingredients. Empyri is an e-commerce skincare company that went online in October with three products: a cleanser, a toner and a daily moisturizer. All of the products are infused with part of the cannabis plant that is often disregarded; the root.
About 18 months ago, Grant began researching cannabis and looking for active ingredients in the parts of the plant, such as the stalks, root and nonviable seeds, that do not meet the definition of cannabis under the federal Cannabis Act.
She’d already developed a line of skincare products that she’s been using for the past eight years, so she tinkered with formulations and added the cannabis extracts.
“I saw the potential to combine the non-regulated parts of a cannabis plant, the parts that are therapeutic, from hemp seed oil to different extracts of the plant, and learned that cannabis roots have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over a thousand years therapeutically,” Grant tells The GrowthOp.
“I started learning about all of these anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, therapeutic parts of the plant and incorporated them into a skincare line.”
According to research published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, cannabis roots have been used in traditional medicine to treat everything from inflammation and arthritis to gout, fever and sexually transmitted diseases, among other conditions.
While not containing THC or CBD, Grant says that cannabis roots are rich in triterpenoids and monoterpenes that are said to have a variety of health benefits. Friedelin, in particular, is a triterpenoid that possesses powerful anti-inflammatory properties, Grant says, adding that she has found it in concentrations of up to 23 per cent in some cannabis roots.
Carvone, a monoterpene, is found in even higher concentrations, up to almost 80 per cent in some cannabis plants, and has demonstrated antiviral, decongestant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Free from the restrictions of the Cannabis Act, Grant is able to buy and process cannabis roots, which she sources from Ontario farmers, and sell her products on the regular bricks-and-mortar consumer market. She can also promote and package it, and build an audience, without the same government restrictions that other cannabis companies face.
Eventually, the plan is to develop wellness products from all parts of the plant, including those that fall under the recreational-use regulations.